Top Ten Tuesday

Top 10 Books on My TBR That I'm Avoiding

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

It's no secret I have been avoiding tons of books on my TBR in my lifetime. I mean, I buy several more books, ignoring the mountain of books I have at home. Yikes. However, one day I plan to get to each and every one. Someday I'd love to wake up and not be drowning underneath a sea of unread books. I'm actively avoiding these books... for reasons.

Maybe one day the mood will strike me and I'll be able to read all of these. Until then, they'll continue to torment me from their places on the shelf.  Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. This week’s topic is: Top 10 TBR Books I'm Avoiding:

Broken Throne by Victoria Aveyard: Unpopular opinion here, but I actually liked the ending of the Red Queen series. It wasn't the greatest but I was satisfied. Now here Aveyard came out with more short stories which includes a check in from the characters after the ending. Plus, this collection includes the short stories that released in the collection, Cruel Crown, which I didn't really like. So, I'm pretty hesitant for this one and I've been putting it off.

The Last Magician by Lisa Maxwell: There's so much to love here. There's time travel and magic, incredible world building and so much more! The only issue is that it's so big. Goodreads says it's 512 pages but the copy I own looks like it's competing with the dictionary.

Heart of Iron by Ashley Poston: I adored Geekerella and I can't wait to continue on in that series. However, when I heard she was doing an Anastasia retelling, I purchased it without really knowing anything else. It may be an Anastasia retelling but it's also set in space which is not my thing.

People Kill People by Ellen Hopkins: I'm surprised not more people are talking about this. It sounds like it would be super relevant and important. I've been avoiding it because I know this is going to make me cry and as much as I used to, I don't seek out books that are going to make me cry. And I've read books by Hopkins previously and didn't really like them at all.

Ship It by Britta Lundin: When I first read what the book was about, it gave me Geekerella vibes but now I'm not so sure. After purchasing myself a copy, all of my friends on Goodreads started rating it very low and now I'm so hesitant to even pick it up.

The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein by Kiersten White: The last book I read from Kiersten White was And I Darken which I rated two stars. I adore White's writing but I thought that book dragged a bit. Even though Elizabeth Frankenstein is 200 pages shorter than And I Darken, I'm still worried about it being too slow for me.

Bloodlines by Richelle Mead: Here's a throwback, isn't it? I read and loved the Vampire Academy series back in the day. And when Mead first came out with Bloodlines, the spin off series that follows Adrian, I wasn't interested at all because I didn't like Adrian one bit. After finishing the Vampire Academy series several years ago, Adrian did begin to grow on me in that last book so I started collecting the books to binge read all of the Bloodlines series. That hasn't happened yet. All I remember is my dislike for Adrian and what if I end up hating this series?

Enchantee by Gita Trelease: A book set in France is my type of book, no matter what it's about. However, when the negative reviews started rolling in, I began to doubt my judgement. The book sounds amazing, but...

Ace of Shades by Amanda Foody: I put this book on my monthly TBR pile so many times this year and I still haven't gotten to it. This book sounds mysterious and atmospheric. A missing mother takes a daughter on the path of investigating mobsters and through alleyways of casinos. It sounds like a dark read that I'll enjoy but the more it sits on my shelf, the more I second guess if I'll actually like it.

The Witch Hunter by Virginia Boecker: I read a few chapters of this back in 2017 and was really enjoying it. However, some book had just released and I got distracted by the new shiny instead of finishing this one. But I haven't picked this up since and I don't really know why.

What books have you been avoiding?

Tackling my TBR

Tackling My TBR: September 2019

Friday, September 06, 2019

Tackling My TBR is a monthly post, where I share my reading plans for the upcoming month. The concept of a TBR Jar is not a new one. I’ve seen it used in various ways throughout the bookish community. My jar will be a little different. The goal is to read the older books on my to-read pile. Thus, instead of putting individual book titles on a small sheet of paper to place in the jar, I wrote a month and a year on each. Each month, I intend to pull three sheets of paper from my jar which will dictate which three books I will read. The dates on the paper correspond with the date I added those books to my Goodreads account. Some months will have over 20 books to choose from, when others may have only one. From Goodreads, I’ll choose the three books from the three different monthly hauls. And if I cannot complete the book within the month, it will be unhauled (with the exception of one pass each month).

In August, I tackled books from my March 2016, July 2013, and May 2016 book hauls. August was such a busy month. Though, surprisingly, I was able to tackle two books right in the beginning of the month. The Bane Chronicles by Cassandra Clare, Maureen Johnson, and Sarah Rees Brennan was a fun read. I adore everything about Magnus Bane so to have a short story collection of his misadventures was endless fun. And then I was able to find an audiobook of Unrivaled—if I was physically reading the book, I think I would have DNFed it. Alyson Noel is one of my auto-buy authors but Unrivaled was all about the glitz and glam of a reality show that fell incredibly lack luster for me. There was way too much drama and not enough story to make me interested in reading the sequel. As for Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige, I also was able to find a copy on audio but the library took it back before I was able to get to it. I’m now on the waiting list to borrow a copy and hopefully, I will get to it in September.

From the jar, I picked April 2015, December 2017, and March 2018 book hauls. From there I chose the following books:

Mansfield Park by Jane Austen: By this time last year, I read all of the classics on my new year’s list but this year, I’ve barely picked up any classics. Mansfield Park has been on my TBR for a long time. Next to Pride and Prejudice, Mansfield Park was always one of my favorite movies. Now I can’t wait to see how the film compares to the book.

The Book Jumper by Mechthild Glaser: I purchased this on a whim because the cover is just so gorgeous. It sounds a bit like book inception and I'm always up to reading a book about books. Plus, it's translated from German.

The Retribution of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin: The final book of the Mara Dyer trilogy. I reread The first Mara Dyer this year and raced through the second one. It’s one crazy ride and I’m here for all the mindblowing things Mara Dyer is going to get up to.


Contemporary-a-thon is hosted by booktubers: ChelseaDollingReads, MelToTheAny, Pages and Pens, and MyReadingisOdd. Here’s the announcement and challenges for the readathon:

This readathon takes place between September 23rd to the 29th. Participants have to read all contemporary novels. There are 7 challenges for the readathon. Here’s the books I hope to get to:

Read a 2019 release: Field Notes on Love by Jennifer E. Smith
Read a contemporary with yellow on the cover: More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera
Read a diverse contemporary: Somewhere Only We Know by Maurene Goo
Read a contemporary with an illustrated cover: Prince Charming by Rachel Hawkins

Read a dark/hard-hitting contemporary: Shutter by Laurie Faria Stolarz
Read a contemporary with plants on the cover: Saving Zoe by Alyson Noel
Read a contemporary that is beloved by a member of the book community (a big shoutout to Chelsea from ChelseaDollingReads; after her praise of this book, I just had to purchase a copy!): The Hating Game by Sally Thorne
And, finally, if I get to it: To Be Honest by Maggie Ann Martin

What are you reading this month?

kickin' it

Kickin' It: August 2019 Wrap Up

Wednesday, September 04, 2019

August was so busy. I recently took on more responsibilities at work so getting into the swing of things threw me for a loop. Also, I applied for a grad program and have been patiently awaiting the results. It finally came a few days ago, I’ve been accepted into my top choice of grad program! I can’t wait to start in January! As far as reading goes, I didn’t get much done this month. I read a total of 8 books which is my lowest number read in the whole year. Though, I was able to find some good reads. Here’s what I read:

The Lady Rogue by Jenn Bennett (4 stars): Are you ready for a historical that reads like a contemporary? Jenn Bennett tried her hand at historical fantasy, a different genre than her previous contemporary romance books. However, the story was so entertaining and solid, the time period is easily overlooked. The Lady Rogue is such a fun adventure story with romance, mystery, and a little bit of magic!

Unrivaled by Alyson Noel (3 stars): I had the sequel to Unrivaled all ready to go for when I was finished with this one. Until I started reading it, that is. One, there was the drama. And we’re not taking great drama like Crazy Rich Asians great, we’re talking unnecessary catty drama that’s annoying and completely boring. Then there was the question of plot—which is to say, where was the actual story? There was a mystery which I was quite enjoying until it ended in the middle of that storyline and expects me to pick up the next book—uh, nope. Three stars is generous but Alyson Noel used to be an autobuy author for me and disappointment hits hard.

Pride by Ibi Zoboi (3 stars): I adore retellings of Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. As much as Pride was a different retelling than I’ve ever seen before, it wasn’t as strong as I was hoping. The diverse cast was remarkable and the discussion of gentrification was something this is not often brought up in YA. Yet, their romance didn’t feel very genuine and there were a lot of times where the reader would have to fill in the blanks of what was being left unsaid in their communications. It was okay and I would definitely be open to reading more from Ibi Zoboi in the future.

Midnight in Austenland by Shannon Hale (4 stars): This was such a lovely surprise! I went in to thinking this was a direct sequel to Austenland by Shannon Hale. Unfortunately, it is not. It’s more of a companion that also takes place in Austenland, a Jane Austen theme park. There was a mystery in this and it was a bit of a shock to find that front and center instead of the romance that encompassed the first book.

The Bane Chronicles by Cassandra Clare, Sarah Rees Brennan, and Maureen Johnson (3 stars): It was great to be back in the Shadowhunter world. I didn’t know how much I was missing Alec and Magnus until I came upon a nice short story about them in this collection. Mind you, this short story collection is not all about Malac, primarily just Magus getting up to his little antics. With most short stories, I loved some and didn’t like others.

We Hunt the Flame by Hasfah Faizal (4 stars): This one started off agonizingly slow. Like, for most of the book I convinced myself it wouldn’t get more than a 3. Ha! I proved myself wrong. The farther you get, the more elaborate the world becomes and the plot takes readers for a head spin. This fantasy got really good!

Rich People Problems by Kevin Kwan (3 stars): Is it wrong of me to say that I’m kind of over the hype for Crazy Rich Asians? I loved the first book; I took it for what it was—a satire with loads of crazy drama. It was fun and lighthearted with a cute romance at the core. The second book got a little more serious, losing some of its satirical tone. And this one: the third and final book in the series doesn’t even follow Rachel and Nick—it centers around the deathbed of the grandmother. Away was the satire that I loved so much in the first one, and with it, I was just over it.

The Bride Test by Helen Hoang (4 stars): Swoon! Dare I say that I may like this one even better than The Kiss Quotient? It had entirely different elements, despite having much of the same framework. Though I did struggle with the end, where readers have to suspend their disbelief.

His Hideous Heart edited by Dahila Adler (9/10/19): This is a short story collection of Edgar Allen Poe retellings. Don’t worry if you don’t remember everything he’s ever wrote; the original works are in the book too!

Wayward Son by Rainbow Rowell (9/24/19): The sequel we’ve all been waiting for. I was surprised how much I adored Carry On, when I read it. Though it seemed like a Harry Potter ripoff, Rowell created lovely characters (I’m looking at Simon and Baz!) that will stay with you forever.

American Royals by Katharine McGee (9/3/19): A book seeped in drama about royals. Yes, please.

Where media was concerned, August was a slow month for me. We started the month off with a showing of Hobbs and Shaw. I was worried that you would have to watch all the Fast and Furious movies to enjoy this spinoff, yet that is not the case. The movie was a lot of fun and had me laughing at some ridiculous parts too! Then I felt super nostalgic when I went to see Dora and the Lost City of Gold. It wasn’t the greatest movie but it was nice to see these characters come to life. Overall, a slow media month but a very busy work month.

Idris Elba Fight GIF by Hobbs & Shaw Smack Talk

How was your August? Did you read any amazing books? Did you watch any fantastic TV shows/movies?

book review

A Swoonworthy, Wild Adventure | The Lady Rogue by Jenn Bennett

Friday, August 30, 2019

The Lady Rogue by Jenn Bennett

Publisher: Simon Pulse
Publication Date: 9/3/19
Pages: 384
Source: publisher in exchange for an honest review
The Last Magician meets A Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue in this thrilling tale filled with magic and set in the mysterious Carpathian Mountains where a girl must hunt down Vlad the Impaler’s cursed ring in order to save her father. Some legends never die… Traveling with her treasure-hunting father has always been a dream for Theodora. She’s read every book in his library, has an impressive knowledge of the world’s most sought-after relics, and has all the ambition in the world. What she doesn’t have is her father’s permission. That honor goes to her father’s nineteen-year-old protégé—and once-upon-a-time love of Theodora’s life—Huck Gallagher, while Theodora is left to sit alone in her hotel in Istanbul. Until Huck arrives from an expedition without her father and enlists Theodora’s help in rescuing him. Armed with her father’s travel journal, the reluctant duo learns that her father had been digging up information on a legendary and magical ring that once belonged to Vlad the Impaler—more widely known as Dracula—and that it just might be the key to finding him. Journeying into Romania, Theodora and Huck embark on a captivating adventure through Gothic villages and dark castles in the misty Carpathian Mountains to recover the notorious ring. But they aren’t the only ones who are searching for it. A secretive and dangerous occult society with a powerful link to Vlad the Impaler himself is hunting for it, too. And they will go to any lengths—including murder—to possess it.
Theodora would sometimes accompany her treasure hunting father on his trips around the globe. Yet, ever since he caught her with a boy in her bedroom, it’s been a slew of hotel rooms and governesses instead of wild adventures. However, when Huck, Theo’s former best friend and apparently her dad’s newest partner in crime, shows up unannounced exclaiming that he has lost track of her father, something doesn’t sound quite right. According to her dad’s journal, he was hired to track down the location of a cursed ring that is said to be worn by Vlad the Impaler himself. If Theo and Huck can find the ring, then they may just find her father. Though, it seems they aren’t the only ones looking for it and no matter how close they get to cracking the case, the others are always a step ahead of them. Jenn Bennett tries her hand at a historical fantasy that is equal parts intriguing and wildly entertaining. The Lady Rogue wows readers with its fun story, slow-burn romance, and its Sherlock-esque mystery of a missing ring.

  • Jenn Bennett is most known for her contemporaries like Starry Eyes and Serious Moonlight. The Lady Rogue is a historical fantasy. I couldn't have been more excited to see how Bennett tackles a very different genre than her usual. The Lady Rogue is set in 1938; and if you didn’t get constant reminders of the year at the beginning of every journal entry, you probably would have never known. It reads like a contemporary which is both good and bad. For those readers who don’t like the historical genre, this is a great gateway book as the dialogue feels more modern but still has certain elements that make it a distinct historical book (no modern technology, the 30s wardrobe described, and more). However, for readers hoping for a historical novel that whisks you away to a past time, it will not be found in The Lady Rogue. Despite it not reading like a historical book, I adored how readable it was and was surprised to find that I couldn't put it down.
  • I was also pleasantly surprised to find a bit of magic in The Lady Rogue. Of course, I anticipated a treasure hunt like no other. And that’s certainly what we received! However, the novel was steeped in legend of hauntings and witches galore. I wasn’t expecting the direction the novel took. 
  • Its spooky hunt for a cursed ring layered with the rich atmosphere of Romania makes it a perfect book to read during the colder months. As far as YA settings go, Romania doesn’t get used very often. The only book (besides The Lady Rogue) that comes to mind is And I Darken by Kiersten White which is a reimagining of Vlad the Impaler. The Lady Rogue takes you on a journey throughout Romania in search of a magical ring that once belonged to Vlad the Impaler. 
  • At the heart of the novel, the book is a mystery—in order to uncover the whereabouts of Theo’s father. The journey these characters embark on is both interesting and engaging. It's an adventure novel that can be likened to The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee as both are historical road trip books. Though that’s where the similarities end. As Monty graces The Gentleman’s Guide with his snarky attitude and quick wit, Theodora is a different voice, filled with quiet confidence and curiosity.
  • Theo is the only character we get quite a bit of backstory to. Huck, her former friend and now adventure partner, is surrounded in mystery. At first, his backstory is incredibly vague. And as much as I'm all for the brooding YA love interest, it didn’t altogether work in this book. I found myself wanting to know more—a little less banter, less code cracking and more deep conversation and character development. 
  • The chemistry between Theo and Huck was almost tangible. Bennett has proven herself a master at romance and it definitely shows in The Lady Rogue. The story lies in careful balance with part adventure and part romance. 
  • The adventure was top notch entertainment. It was riveting. Bennett gives you a little Nancy Drew in Serious Moonlight but The Lady Rogue goes entirely Sherlock with a little bit of magic thrown in. There are codes to crack and leads to follow. All directing them to a treasure that's been lost for ages. 
  • At this point, there is no news about the sequel or if this will be getting a sequel. YA fantasy standalones are few and far in between so it would be nice to put The Lady Rogue in that category. However, Bennett leaves the book open for new adventures in the future. I wouldn't mind returning to this treasure hunting gang.
  • The ending was magical. The final scenes took place in an ancient castle that Bennett described so well, it gave me chills. It was as if readers were right there with Theo. My heart is still beating out of control, worrying over all the characters. 

Overall, The Lady Rogue was such a wild adventure, a masterful page turner that is sure to capture your heart. I can’t wait to return to it again and again!

book review

Exploration of Grief and Revenge | The Last Voyage of Poe Blythe by Ally Condie

Friday, August 23, 2019

The Last Voyage of Poe Blythe by Ally Condie

Publisher: Dutton Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: 3/26/19
Pages: 328
Source: publisher in exchange for honest review
Poe Blythe is the young captain of her failing city's last mining ship, travelling the Serpentine River and dredging up gold. But it isn't gold on her mind. Two years ago, river raiders robbed Poe of everything. And she wants revenge. As she navigates the treacherous waters and realises there's a traitor among her crew, Poe is forced to confront the dangerous truth about why she has been sent on this journey - and reckon with who she has become.
Poe and Call, orphans of the Outpost, have always wondered what lies beyond the walls of their confining city. When an opportunity to join the crew of a mining ship comes along, they both take it. Together, Poe and Call create a plan to jump ship to race toward freedom. Yet, when the ship is attacked and Call is struck dead, Poe is left to seethe in anger at the Raiders who attacked them. In this glorious exploration of grief and revenge, Poe embarks on her last journey that starts off in anger but ends in understanding. The Last Voyage of Poe Blythe is a fast paced, riveting tale that many readers can relate to.

  • The lead-in was so gripping. I don’t know how Condie did it but within the first five pages, she captures the reader’s attention and makes them fall in love with Call as much as Poe is in love with him. The writing was tremendously easy to read and fast paced. 
  • I was a bit hesitant to start this. I read Matched when it first came out and didn't like it at all. It was a bit slow and too romance-centric. However, this past autumn, Ally Condie wrote The Darkdeep with Brendan Reichs which I thought was imaginative and action packed. So, when I heard about The Last Voyage of Poe Blythe, following a female captain of a mining ship, seeking revenge, I knew I had to check it out. When I first read the synopsis, I thought this may be about pirates. Unfortunately, it is not. The ship they sail mines the gold at the bottom of the river. And there are some scenes of Raiders overtaking the ship but none of the Raiders call the river their home. However, there are similar elements to that of pirates that I would recommend The Last Voyage to readers who like pirates and sea-faring adventures. 
  • There are some dystopian undertones in this. Instead of building a world, Condie placed us in a world that had ended and been reborn. People live in this one concentrated area called the Outpost. They exchange freedom for life under the supervision of the Admiral. Citizens of the Outpost believe that the outside world is not safe. Poe used to strive to break free from the Admiral’s hold which would have turned this into a dystopian novel for sure. Instead, she decides to seek revenge for the death of a loved one and to do that, she needs the leverage the Admiral provides. 
  • There were many paths the plot could take. It's a revenge narrative. Yet, at one point, it was the mystery of a potential traitor. At another time, there was a survival plot. The Last Voyage of Poe Blythe connects it all but it does seem as if there was a bit too much going on. There didn't seem to be one primary focus. 
pirates of the caribbean ship GIF
  • Condie created an entire cast of amazing characters. Each were so well written. With Poe’s narrative, who doesn’t make small talk and knows very little about her crew, readers are only given the bare facts about each character, at first. Condie lets readers interact with the characters through dialogue and action which immerses readers further into the story. It makes the cast of characters much more dimensional that way. 
  • Poe is complicated, in depth, and relatable. Readers' hearts will surely go out to her. Her grief is shrouded by her desire for unrelenting revenge against the Raiders. She makes many mistakes along the way which makes her relatable; yet, it may also make her unlikable. She’s a strict captain. She doesn’t want to make friends. She doesn’t like to make conversation. Poe is blinded by one path: of ridding the world of Raiders. She intends to see her mission through without fail. Poe is such an excellent character.
  • There was a slight romance—that I wouldn't even categorize as a romance—more like a mere desire. It is easy to decipher that Condie wanted there to be something between Poe and the other character, but there wasn’t. It would have been interesting to see how it turned out but Poe’s desire was underdeveloped and mostly imaginary.
  • The ending leaves it open to questions, even room for a possible sequel. Condie made the right choice in ending it that way. It left readers wondering and wanting more. 
This is a plot we’ve seen many times before. However, Ally Condie explores grief and revenge expertly, creating a character as real as you and me. The Last Voyage of Poe Blythe is a well-crafted story with fantastic characters, superb action sequences, and dystopian vibes.